July 1, 2008

Proposals to help heal the genocidal wounds of indigenous peoples


In an article published in the Star Tribune, Minnesota’s best-selling state-wide daily newspaper, Jeffrey Kolnick proposed that Minnesota “take a leadership role in the nation in dealing with the legacy of the genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas”.

By Thomas Dahlheimer


In an article published in the Star Tribune, Minnesota’s best-selling state-wide daily newspaper, Jeffrey Kolnick proposed that Minnesota “take a leadership role in the nation in dealing with the legacy of the genocide of indigenous peoples in the Americas”. (ref.)


In another Star Tribune article, Louis Stanley Schoen proposed that a public commission be established “to begin to examine the American (and European) history of white supremacy — and, here, how that doctrine shaped the formation of Minnesota and its public and private institutions. Schoen also wrote that after the proposed commission is, hopefully, established and examines the history of white supremacy it should “offer leadership and resources to dismantle this evil doctrine”. In addition, Schoen wrote: “The results could be transforming for us and for all the world. (ref.)


I recently sent a proposal to Griff Wigley, the blogger of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Advisory Committee for Native American Partnering blog and the committee’s project leader, wherein I asked Mr. Wigley to post Louis Stanley Schoen’s article on the blog. And do so, because it is a good article and also because I could then, in response to Schoen’s posted article, post a comment with a link to a petition of mine where tribal leaders and prominent non-Indian Minnesotans could add their names and comments to this petition. A petition that asks the Governor of Minnesota [Tim Pawlenty] to establish a public commission to accomplish the goals that Schoen proposed in his Star Tribune article.


The basis of the white racist system of evil, or history of white supremacy in the Americans, is an evil doctrine, the fifteenth century Papal Bull Inter Caetera.


A movement to dismantle this evil doctrine has been ongoing for a number of years. It was initiated by the Indigenous Law Institute in 1992. At the Parliament of World Religions in 1994 over 60 indigenous delegates drafted a Declaration of Vision.


It reads, in part: “We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Caetera Bull of May 4, 1493, which will restore our fundamental human rights. That Papal document called for our Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543 (in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the Inter Caetera Bull. This Papal Bull has been, and continues to be, devastating to our religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations.”


In respect to an upcoming decision of the MN Legislature whether to fund a project concerning Fort Snelling, Jeffrey Kolnick wrote, in a Star Tribune article: “For the Dakota people it (Fort Snelling) represents the coercive power that forced them from their ancestral homeland as well as the actual location of a concentration camp where many died in the harsh winter of 1862-63.”


In his article, Kolnick proposed that “the state appropriate funds for the removal and reconstruction of Fort Snelling on more neutral ground and to turn the reconstructed site into the Minnesota Museum of Genocide. The original site would be turned into a state park in which the DNR and the Dakota communities of Minnesota, both federally recognized and non-federally recognized, would come to an agreement on the design and management”. (ref.)


I propose that Minnesota admit it committed ethnocide and genocide against its indigenous people and offer restorative justice.


Precedent: The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission acknowledges on its website that even though “we” (Minnesotans) can admit that genocides have occurred in other parts of the world, “we still remain either unaware of or unable to look at our own history and acknowledge the painful wounds of ethnocide and genocide right here in Minnesota. We have a very hard time acknowledging that the pain remains and that it has affected much of our history thru to the present day.” (ref.)


I propose that Minnesota pass a measure of support for the United Nations’ declaration on the human rights of indigenous peoples.


Precedent: In an article published in Indian County Today, the following statement is presented: “The states of Arizona and Maine have passed measures of support for the declaration, as has the city of Phoenix.” This United Nations’ declaration acknowledges that “indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples”. (ref.)


I propose that U.S. Federal agencies recognize and declare that Wakan/”Mille Lacs” Lake is a sacred Dakota Indian site.


When addressing the subject of Lakota/Dakota creation stories, Wilhelm K. Meya, one of the most active anthropologists working with the Lakota today, wrote: “The Mdewakanton are considered in the oral tradition, one of the most ancient divisions of the Sioux Nation or Ocetisakowin ‘Seven Council Fires’. The sacred lake (Mille Lacs) figures prominently in Lakota/Dakota creation stories. The lake is considered sacred because the Dakota people emerged from it as human beings into this world.” (ref.)


I propose that Ramey, Minnesota change its racist name.


In a Star Tribune article, guest editorialist, Waziyatawin Angela Wilson (Dakota) wrote, in part: “Once Gov. Alexander Ramsey made his infamous declaration on Sept. 9, 1862, that the Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state, his genocidal agenda was widely and wildly supported by white Minnesotans. His call was very clearly a demand for what we would today identify as ethnic cleansing. Everything that followed fit into this larger agenda, an extraordinarily successful genocidal effort from which Dakota people have never recovered.” (ref.)


In a letter to the Ramsey City Council, I presented a quote from Waziyatawin Star Tribune article: “The hangings, the concentration camps and forced imprisonments, the forced gender segregation, the punitive campaigns into Dakota Territory to hunt down and terrorize those trying to flee, the bounties on Dakota scalps — all are examples of how Ramsey’s plan was successfully implemented. In addition, Dakota people suffered the consequences of similarly genocidal policies carried out nationally against all indigenous peoples. What this means is that genocide in Minnesota and the United States was systematic and that it was carried out and supported in different forms by regular people throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.” (ref.)


I propose that the Church of Saint Stephen, a Roman Catholic Church located within the Dakota’s sacred Wakan/”Rum”River Watershed ancestral/traditional homeland, remove its racist Knights of Columbus sign and logo from its Knights of Columbus building.


Because of the moral guidance presented in a fifteenth century Papal Bull Christopher Columbus felt justified and righteous to write in his journal that the Taino people were “very friendly”, “an inoffensive people”, “they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force”, “weapons they have none”, and that “with weapons and 50 men I could enslave the entire population”. He later wrote: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”


A Roman Catholic Priest [Bartolome de Las Casas] was the first European historian in the Americas, he came to the Americas with Columbus on his third journey. He wrote, when referring to Columbus and his knights’ genocidal
behavior in the Americas, “…for they are still acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola once so populous (having a population that I estimated to be more than three million), has now a population of barely two hundred persons.” (ref.)


I proposal that Minnesota’s geographic place names that are offensive to American Indians and a lot of other people be changed.


After Minnesota Representative Mike Jaros slightly edited my draft bill to change our state’s 14 offensive names, he and I then gained the consent of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council to introduced it to the Legislature. On May 18, 2007 it was introduced to the Legislature. (ref.) (ref.)


I propose that the name of Mille Lacs Kathio State Park be changed.


On a Kathio Landmark Trail interpretive sign there are the words: “Well-known explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur duLhut collectively referred to the area as ‘Izatys,’ a name the Mdewakanton Dakota people gave themselves. Sieur du Lhut’s poor handwriting caused a wrong translation of the word ‘Izatys’. The ‘Iz’ was transcribed as a K, and further error caused the name to be Kathio, a word that translates to nothing. ‘Kathio’ became a name so attached to the area that the park bears that name today.”


On another Kathio Landmark Trail interpretive sign, Tim Blue, the Education Director at Eci Nompa Woonspe in Morton, Minnesota is quoted as saying: “The name of this place should be Isanti (E-sawn-tay`) State Park, because that is correct, whereas Kathio is incorrect. Isan means ‘Knife’ and Isanti refers to the Knife Lake and Mille Lacs Lake people of the Dakota nation.” (ref.)


I propose that a least some areas of the Dakota’s Wakan/”Mille Lacs” Lake ancestral/traditional homeland be returned to the Dakota people.


Jeffrey Kolnick wrote, in a Star Tribune article: “All of the wealth of Minnesota was in an important way financed by the taking of lands from the First Nations at gunpoint.” (ref.)


My article Regaining the Dakota’s sacred Mille Lacs ancestral homeland presents more information about this proposal (ref.), as does also my article Mdewakanton Dakota rights activist initiatives. (ref.)


Also, in a recorded radio broadcast (ref.), Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, historian and leading MN Dakota activist said that she hopes that the Dakota will eventually regain some of their Mille Lacs (north-central MN) ancestral homeland wild rice grounds. In respect to my article Regaining The Dakota’s Sacred Mille Lacs Ancestral Homeland, Waziyatawin told me “your doing good work”.


Links to the references in this article can be found at:



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